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With such ingredients of good sense, and taste
Of what is excellent in man, they thirst
With such a zeal to be what they approve,
That no restraints can circumscribe them more
Than they themselves by choice, for wisdom's sake;
Nor can example hurt them: what they see
Of vice in others but enhancing more
The charms of virtue in their just esteem,
If such escape contagion, and emerge
Pare from so foul a pool to shine abroad,
And give the world their talents and themselves,
Small thanks to those, whose negligence of sloth
Exposed their inexperience to the snare,
And left them to an undirected choice.
See then the quiver broken and decayed,
In which are kept our arrows! Rusting there
In wild disorder, and unfit for use,
What wonder if, discharged into the world,
They shame their shooters with a random flight,
Their points obtuse, and feathers drunk with wine !
Well may the church wage unsuccessful war
With such artillery armed. Vice parries wide
Th' undreaded volley with a sword of straw,
And stands an impudent and fearless mark.
Have we not tracked the felon home, and found His birth-place and his dam? The country mourns, Mourns because every plague that can infest Society, and that saps and worms the base Of the edifice, that policy has raised, Swarms in all quarters; meets the eye,
And suffocates the breath, at every turn.
Profusion breeds them; and the cause itself
Of that calamitous mischief has been found :
Found too where most offensive, in the skirts
Of the robed pedagogue! Else let th' arraigned
Stand up unconscious, and refute the charge.
So, when the Jewish leader stretched his arm,
And waved his rod divine, a race obscene,
Spawned in the muddy beds of Nile, came forth,
Polluting Egypt: gardens, fields, and plains,
Were covered with the pest; the streets were filled ;
The croaking nuisance lurked in every pook ;
Nor palaces, nor even chambers, 'scaped ;
And the land stank-so numerous was the fry.
Self-recollection and reproof.--Address to domestic happiness. Some account of myself.--The vanity of many of their par. suits who are reputed wise. - Justification of my censures.Divine illumination necessary to the most expert philosopher. -The question, What is truth? answered by other questions.Domestic happiness addressed again.-Few lovers of the country.-My tame hare.--Occupations of a retired gentleman in his garden.-Pruning.-Framing.-Greenhouse. --Sowing of flower seeds.--The country preferable to the town, even in the winter.-Reasons why it is deserted at that season. Ruinous effects of gaming and of expensive improvement.Book concludes with an apostrophe to the metropolis.
As one, who long in thickets and in brakes
Entangled winds now this way and now that
His devious course uncertain, seeking home;
Or, having long in miry ways been foiled
And sore discomfited, from slough to slough
Plunging and half-despairing of escape ;
If chance at length he find a greensward smooth
And faithful to the foot, his spirits rise,
He chirrups brisk his ear-erecting steed,
And winds his way with pleasure and with ease;
So I, designing other themes, and called
T'adorn the Sofa with eulogium due,
To tell its slumbers, and to paint its dreams,
Have rambled wide. In country, city, seat
Of academic fame (howe'er deserved),
Long held, and scarcely disengaged at last.
But now with pleasant pace a cleanlier road
I mean to tread. I feel myself at large,
Courageous and refreshed for future toil,
If toil await me, or if dangers new.
Since pulpits fail, and sounding-boards reflect
Most part an empty ineffectual sound,
What chance that I, to fame so little known,
Nor conversant with men or manners much,
Should speak to purpose, or with better hope
Crack the satiric thong ? 'Twere wiser far
For me, enamoured of sequestered scenes,
And charmed with rural beauty, to repose,
Where chance may throw me, beneath elm or vine,
My languid limbs, when summer sears the plains ;
Or, when rough winter rages, on the soft
And sheltered Sofa, while the nitrous air
Feeds a blue flame, and makes a cheerful hearth;
There, undisturbed by folly, and apprized
How great the danger of disturbing her,
To muse in silence, or at least confine
Remarks, that gall so many, to the few
My partners in retreat. Disgust concealed
Is oft-times proof of wisdom, when the fault
Is obstinate, and cure beyond our reach.
Domestic happiness, thou only bliss Of Paradise, that hast survived the fall! Though few now taste thee unimpaired and pure, Or tasting long enjoy thee! too infirm,
Or too incautious, to preserve thy sweets
Unmixt with drops of bitter, which neglect
Or temper sheds into thy crystal cup;
Thou art the nurse of virtue, in thine arms
She smiles, appearing, as in truth she is,
Heaven-born, and destined to the skies again.
Thou art not known where pleasure is adored,
That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist
And wandering eyes, still leaning on the arm
Of novelty, her fickle frail support;
For thou art meek and constant, hating change,
And finding in the calm of truth-tried love
Joys, that her stormy raptures never yield.
Forsaking thee what shipwreck have we made
Of honour, dignity, and fair renown!
Till prostitution elbows us aside
In all'our crowded streets, and senates seem
Convened for purposes of empire less,
Than to release th' adultress from her bond.
Th' adultress! what a theme for angry verse !
What provocation to th’ indignant heart,
That feels for injured love! but I disdain
The nauseous task to paint her as she is,
Cruel, abandoned, glorying in her shame!
No :-let her pass, and chariotted along
In guilty splendour shake the public ways;
The frequency of crimes has washed them white,
And verse of mine shall never brand the wretch,
Whom matrons now of character unsmirched,
And chaste themselves, are not ashamed to own,
Virtue and vioe had boundaries in old time
Not to be passed : and she, that had renounced
Her sex's honour, was renounced herself
By all that prized it; not for prudery's sake,
But dignity's, resentful of the wrong.
'Twas hard perhaps on here and there a waif;
Desirous to return, and not received :
Bat was an wholesome rigour in the main,
And taught th’ unblemished to preserve with care
That purity, whose loss was loss of all.
Men too were nice in honour in those days,
And judged offenders well. Then he that sharped,
And pocketted a prize by fraud obtained,
Was marked and shunned as odious. He that sold
His country, or was slack when she required
His every nerve in action and at stretch,
Paid with the blood, that he had basely spared,
The price of his default. But nowm-yes now,
We are become so candid and so fair,
So liberal in construction, and so rich
In Christian charity, (good-natured age !)
That they are safe, sinners of either sex
Transgress what laws they may. Well dressed, well bred,
Well equipaged, is ticket good enough
To pass us readily through every door.
Hypocrisy, detest her as we may
(And no man's hatred ever wronged her yet),
May claim this merit still that she admits
The worth of what she mimics with such care,
And thus gives virtue indirect applause ;
But she has burnt her mask, not needed here,
Where vice has such allowance, that her shifts
And specious semblances have lost their use.
I was a stricken deer, that left the herd
Long since; with
many an arrow deep infixt
My panting side was charged, when I withdrew
To seek a tranquil death in distant shades.
There was I found by one, who had himself
Been hurt by the archers. In his side he bore,
And in his hands and feet, the cruel scars.
With gentle force soliciting the darts,
He drew them forth, and healed, and bade me live;